Why did Romania give up the Cyrillic alphabet?
Romanian - the forgotten Romance language
Nowadays, Romanian is spoken by around 24 million people as their mother tongue and it is the second language of 4 million people. The language is considered the official language of Romania and the Republic of Moldova - in comparison, around 90 to 105 million people speak German as their mother tongue.
As already mentioned, Romanian belongs to the subgroup of the Romance languages, as it has developed from the "mother tongue" Latin, like Italian for example. Romanian is, however, particularly among the Romance languages because it has developed through close contact with other languages, especially Slavic languages.
The closest Romance language to Romanian is Italian with 77 percent common language.
But how did Romanian develop from Latin?
The province of Dacia, today's Romania, was part of the Roman Empire from 107 to 271 AD and was, so to speak, "Romanized" in this relatively short period of time. This means that the population has adopted the language and culture of the Romans. The Roman soldiers and governors did not speak classical Latin, but a colloquial and thus simplified version called Vulgar Latin. Why Latin prevailed despite the short period of occupation and not, as in Germany or England, for example, did not leave any traces except for a few place names, has not yet been clearly clarified. It is speculated that the Roman settlers entered into mixed marriages with the natives or that the Dacian language was already an Italian language closely linked to Latin. It is known that the region was Romanized very quickly.
Proto-Romanian evolved from Vulgar Latin over the next few centuries, but it is difficult to say how Romanian evolved in the Middle Ages because no Romanian texts exist before the 16th century.
The Slavic Influences
Romania is mainly surrounded by Slavic lands because many Slavs immigrated to this region in the 7th and 9th centuries. Romanian is therefore also part of the so-called Balkan language, as it has understandably come into contact with the languages of the neighboring countries over the centuries. The formative influence of the Slavic languages not only had an impact on Romanian pronunciation and vocabulary, but also on grammar.
Also, Romanian was written in the Cyrillic script well into the 19th century, but by the 19th century there was a national movement that resulted in more emphasis on Romance origins and the introduction of the Latin script as a symbol of cultural identity. An attempt was made to eliminate Slavic and other influences. However, the words have not only been replaced by Latin, but also by Italian and, above all, by French. In Moldova, on the other hand, the Cyrillic script was only abandoned at the end of the Soviet era.
The Romanian language
If you look at the 2500 most commonly used words, you will notice that the vocabulary is composed of 76 percent Romance, 15 percent Slavic and 9 percent other languages such as German or Turkish.
Romanian can therefore be described as a language with two kinds of relationship. Romanian is a Romance language by origin, but it has developed in close contact with the non-Romance Balkan languages.
Here are a few more impressions of the Romanian language:
1. The similarity to Romance languages
Romanian: Cunosc istoria Europei foarte bine.
Italian: Conosco la storia d’Europa molto bene.
-> I know the history of Europe very well.
One, two, three is unu, doi, trei in Romanian, uno, due, tre in Italian and uno, dos, tres in Spanish.
2. Frequently used words of Slavic origin
Un prieten: a friend a iubi: love; a plăti: pay
A se trezi: wake up; a găsi: to find
I like Romanian very much because it sounds nice and my knowledge of French and Spanish help me to learn and understand the language. Sometimes Romanian is just plain funny too, here are a few examples:
A child: un copil the children: copiii
Or: a coffee: o cafea the coffees: cafelele
a tulip: o lalea the tulips: lalelele
I think I don't need to explain why I find these words funny!
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